Bill Frisell to Release Disfarmer July 21
As he proves on Disfarmer, a new Nonesuch release due out Tuesday, Bill Frisell doesn’t always need a Buster Keaton flick to make a film soundtrack—just some photographs.
The album features Frisell on guitar and loops along with Greg Leisz on steel guitar and mandolin, Viktor Krauss on bass, and Jenny Scheinman playing violin. Inspired by the life and work of Mike Disfarmer, the mysterious Arkansas man whose photos of local townspeople mark some of the most arresting portraiture of the 20th century, Disfarmer is 26 majestic, melodic vignettes evoking bygone honkytonks and tumbleweed towns. It follows last year’s All Hat, Frisell’s soundtrack for the film of the same name. (Although that disc features drummer Scott Amendola and harmonica player Mark Graham in addition to the Disfarmer quartet, the albums share a similar John Ford-ian spirit.)
Like a great film score, Disfarmer's success rests on a great motif. On “Farmer,” Frisell plays an acoustic chord-melody of what resembles a lost Morricone gem; “Focus” finds that theme backgrounded by Philip Glass-ish minimalism; “I Am Not a Farmer” is an ensemble take on the same tune; and “Small Town” is another acoustic take. (Just when you think things might be getting too moody, the guitarist adds some slapback delay for a fun, loose read of “That’s Alright, Mama.”)